We have a naming system for our ewes that enables us to follow the maternal line. I don’t know why animal breeding systems seem to focus on the paternal side: we always have just one ram, so the birth year tells us who the dad is, and that is on the eartag!
It turns out little Muffin [or is it going to be Marigold?] is the daughter of Melody, daughter of Melissa, daughter of Molly, daughter of Marilyn. Marilyn was the purebred Romney we purchased from Bill Hesse of Hillsboro in 2001 so that we could begin to increase the quality of our wool and get back into Romney sheep. Marilyn was bred to Milton, a Montadale sheep known for meat rather than wool. Sadly, Marilyn was only able to give us one lamb–Molly. And even that was a surprise. It seems the first time Marilyn and Milton got together, something snapped in Marilyn’s back. Marilyn put up with five months of rehabilitation–slings to help her stand, exercise regimes, etc.
Finally she was able to walk with a limp. Then she seemed to lose her strength and was lying down all the time. That’s when we realized she was pregnant. A week later Molly was delivered by cesarean and Marilyn had to endure many more months of recovery and rehab. Apparently the steroids and other drugs the vet gave Marilyn to ease her pain and speed her back recovery resulted in our largest lamb ever, 17 pounds. Marilyn happily produced milk and Molly easily learned to kneel down to get it until Mom was on her feet again.
Molly also had a brief and troubled life. Though she was a giant, probably weighing 250 pounds, her lambs were often small and weak. But not Melissa, she was strong and healthy.
Later in 2008, Molly died abruptly of some sort of digestive disturbance. John was on a business trip, and Marilyn and some house guests had to drag Molly’s huge dead body out into the field, dig a big hole, and bury her.
Melissa also had poor luck her first few years, losing one of her twins at birth twice in a row. But she remains in the flock, with beautiful wool and a great disposition, and this year she had big, strong, healthy twin boys.
Melody is back with the flock and seems happy enough. She won’t stay with us, however. Her beautiful wool will have a weak spot because of her trauma, and she can’t be bred again because of the risk of prolapse.
So Muffin/ Marigold comes from a long line of challenged mothers. Hopefully she will thrive at Tracy’s farm, and maybe next year Melissa will have a ewe lamb to carry on the line.